FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron looks set for a large majority in the national assembly despite his coalition netting just a third of the votes in the poorly attended first round of polling on Sunday.
The second round will be held in a week’s time and pollsters say that Mr Macron’s Republic on the Move party and its Democratic Movement allies could amass more than 400 of the 577 parliamentary seats.
But turnout was shockingly low at under 49 per cent, the lowest since the foundation of the Fifth Republic in 1958.
That showed there is no majority support for Mr Macron’s planned handouts to the rich and assaults on workers’ rights, welfare benefits and pensions, charged leftwinger Jean-Luc Melenchon.
Mr Macron’s pro-business programme will be a further savage follow-up to the anti-worker Macron and El-Khomri laws passed by the previous Socialist Party government, of which Mr Macron was a member. Both have been fiercely opposed on the streets by workers and their trade unions.
Mr Melenchon, who got nearly 20 per cent in the first round of the presidential election in April, said the results revealed an “unstable and illusory political situation.”
His France Unbowed party took 11 per cent of the popular vote and he urged people to vote tactically in constituencies where the party failed to reach the second round.
In France, the top two candidates in the first round progress to a second, along with anyone who polled more than 12.5 per cent.
Communist leader Pierre Laurent said that if the predictions of a large neoliberal majority hold true, with Mr Macron’s MPs likely to be supported by the conservative Republicans, millions of French citizens faced a “extremely difficult situation.”
He said the majority abstention in the first round was “the first failure” of Mr Macron, with “fanatical presidentialism” devaluing “parliamentary legitimacy.”
But Mr Laurent admitted that division, “particularly on the left,” had worsened the results.
“The left is severely weakened and even eliminated in many constituencies. We deplore it, despite the efforts we have made to remedy it.”
He said it was urgent to mobilise for the second round “against the candidates of Macron, the Republicans and the National Front.”
The Republicans received 16 per cent of the vote and the fascist National Front 13 per cent.